Start-up develops vegan-friendly leather

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Forget lab-grown meat. A US company backed by Mark Zuckerberg and Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-Shing, is developing lab-grown cow skin in a bid to disrupt the $100bn global leather industry.

Andras Forgacs, founder and chief executive of the US-based company, Modern Meadow, said the new technology would allow real leather to be produced at scale in a factory without having to raise or slaughter livestock.

Instead, the vegan-friendly leather will be fermented using a bioengineered form of yeast which will be brewed to produce bovine collagen, a protein found in the connective tissues of cows which is the basic biological building block of leather.

Since 2014, Modern Meadow has already secured about $54m in funding from some of the world’s biggest investors.